Bourne Town prepare for the new United Counties League season


Ambitious Bourne Town hope a strong recruitment campaign can help them climb back up the ranks of the United Counties League.

The Wakes finished last season in 19th place in the 23-team Division One following a rocky start to the campaign due to Football Association uncertainty over their league standings.

Bourne was initially placed in the Thurlow Nunn League before an 11th hour return to the United Counties League which hit their pre-season preparations.

Action from Harrowby United’s South Kesteven Charity Cup semi-final with Bourne Town on Tuesday night. Photo: Toby Roberts (57982421)

However, they have strengthened both their management team, their squad of players and their club roster ahead of the new campaign.

Former Deeping Rangers boss Michael Goode joined the Wakes as director of football while former Peterborough North End and Thorney manager Tom Florence became Steve Wilson’s assistant.

They retained the core team from last season while adding a number of new players including Matt Cox, Josh Edmondson, Nathan Smith, Ben Cowles and Dylan Knowling.

Goode said: “It was difficult for the club last season with all the uncertainty at the start regarding the league situation.

“The club are in a great position off the pitch and it’s no secret that they want to go up to stage five, but it’s not easy to do that in this league.

“We did hell for leather in recruiting this year. We used the base of players from last season and built a new team around it.

“All the players we’ve signed are capable of playing in stage five but, for one reason or another, it hasn’t happened to them yet.

“We hope to bring these players together and shape them into a team.

“We won’t make any bold statements about winning the league because there are big clubs in our division.

Action from Bourne's pre-season clash with Holbeach.  Photo: Chris Lowndes (57982435)
Action from Bourne’s pre-season clash with Holbeach. Photo: Chris Lowndes (57982435)

“It’s a tough league, but hopefully we can build a team that can take us to the top of the line and try to compete.

“With the play-off scenario, if we’re in the top eight with 10 games left, we’ll have a chance.

“We have a solid group at the moment and, although we will have to make difficult decisions in the next few weeks on the direction to take, this has given us a good starting point and the quality will come after that.”

Florence’s arrival as assistant to boss Wilson sees a four-person management team with Matt Robinson as coach and Junior Jones as goalkeeping coach.

Goode added: “We have a strong management team, but we saw a gap and needed someone to directly support Steve.

“Tom knows the sixth leg of football and player contact. He lives in Bourne and has been a big believer in what the club are trying to achieve.

Action from Bourne's pre-season clash with Holbeach.  Photo: Chris Lowndes (57982432)
Action from Bourne’s pre-season clash with Holbeach. Photo: Chris Lowndes (57982432)

“He’s really passionate and enthusiastic and knows the local scene, so he’s a perfect fit for us.

“The management team is much stronger and we have a new physiotherapist/sportsman to give us a good setup off the pitch as well.”

Goode is also relishing his return after being out of the game for a few seasons following a successful spell with Deeping.

Wakes’ reserve side will be under Kai Brownhill this season while a new A team will be led in the Peterborough League by Steve Bills as Goode looks to use his role to create a strong bond between the club.

He added: “I have known chairman Chris Good for about 30 years through football and cricket and he asked if I could help him.

“I like non-league football and that suits me because I have the opportunity to be involved but without the full commitment of the day-to-day running of it, so I can’t wait to get back.

Action from Bourne's pre-season clash with Holbeach.  Photo: Chris Lowndes (57982438)
Action from Bourne’s pre-season clash with Holbeach. Photo: Chris Lowndes (57982438)

“I support the management of the first team, I lead the recruitment of players, which I enjoy doing, as well as giving advice on training, tactical play and contributing my knowledge of the fifth stage of the soccer.

“We want to get back to stage five in the short to medium term and I’m monitoring that.

“I am also trying to create a bond between the reserves and our new A team and to strengthen the bond with Bourne Town Juniors.

“We want to give the guys from the city a place to play men’s football once they come out of the youth section.”

Bourne was beaten with a lone strike against Harrowby United in the South Kesteven Charity Cup semi-final on Tuesday night.

In front of a healthy crowd of over 100 on a very hot night, both teams had great squads and plenty of changes from their previous encounter in the United Counties League last season.

It was a very cautious affair in the first half with chances hard to come by as both defenses were on top.

Harrowby’s new skipper was very dominant in the air as Bourne put a lot of balls in and around the box. Likewise, Herbie Panting had a good game for Bourne in his defense.

The Arrows probably just shaded the first half, but no one in the crowd was surprised the interval score was 0-0.

The second half began and, with both teams allowed seven substitutes, play began to open up, with Bourne looking more likely to open the scoring.

Arrows keeper Phil McGann made two good saves to keep Bourne at bay as substitutes were made by both teams.

It looked increasingly like penalties were going to decide the tie when, with probably their only real chance of the second half, youngster Charlie Baker beat his man and crossed for Jordan Parker to head home.

Harrowby saw the last five minutes to earn a final place against Grantham Town while Bourne travel to Blackstones on Saturday (kick-off 12.30pm) in the third-place game.


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